Don Wrege at XOR - tribute to Bob Komin, Trent Hein, and Greg Jacobsen
When the CFO, CTO and CEO all announced they were leaving the company in 2001, I was asked by HR to address the employees and cheer them up. I'd already given a speech to the troups when former president Herb left. I left soon afterwards too.

Manager of Creative Services
Tenure: March 1, 1998 - July 4, 2001

I joined XOR in March of 1998. The only way
I could get Creative Director Hans Bjordahl's
attention was to bootleg their corporate website
and replace all the content with stuff about me.
When I joined there were under 40 employees.
When I left three and a half years later I was
Manager of Creative Services and
XOR had nearly four hundred employees.

1998 - Healthsmart /
(Project Mgr., Budget: $90,000)
I was still new to XOR in March of 1998 when they put "the weird old guy with the ponytail" on this project. XOR sales guy Ray Thompson had cold-called Gunbarrel-based vitamin mail-order giant Amrion and closed a two-site deal to take a thriving mail-order vitamin business to the Web. Who better than the old dude who takes a lot of vitamins himself, to run the thing? I harassed designer Erika Sears and annoyed developer Randall Gaz. Within six months both sites earned back their cost of construction and from then on out it was found money profit. Amrion became an acquisition target for the giant Whole Foods corporation and Whole Foods management took notice of our online success. Don Wrege DonWrege Don Wrege

1999 - - Design and Build
(Sr. Project Mgr., Budget: $200,000)
The Amrion Web team was headed by Jason Edwards and when the company was gobbled up by Whole Foods, Jason requested that I be a part of the next project. I was assigned Senior Project Manager duties on the creative side of the project. It was XOR's first two hundred thousand dollar gig and as Hans put it, I was their only guy who had "big project experience." I suggested that we utilize some of the user experience testing techniques I'd learned at U S West. Hans agreed and once introduced these processes became part of our Best Practices.
The best part of the Whole Foods job were the trips to Austin. Austin rocks. The second best part was being a part of building a ground-up order-through-fulfillment system with all of the obstacles that were presented. Two hippies named Carl and Jon headed up the project. It took awhile for the "new economy" to realize that selling groceries via the Web was insane, but on the way to that realization the website sparkled with its own magazine section and an astounding array of save-the-whales earth-friendly products and an army of petchuli-oiled roller skaters filling orders in an Austin warehouse.

2000 - - Redesign and Build
(Producer - Budget - three million over two launches)
Jason Edwards left Whole Foods to join wacky Washington millionaire Robert Haft in his mission to outdo his daddy with an IPO. He wanted to take a website,, from a "server-in-a-closet" situation to a full-blown operation that had as its main goal to "kick Mother Nature's ass" (that would be: We not only accomplished that, but Haft sunk about three million into the project (one with us, two with nation-wide advertising) and sold the damn thing a year later for (get this) over one hundred million. Hans Bjordahl sums it up like so: "Within 12 weeks of launch, was taking more orders per day than competitors and Featuring full online commerce functionality for 15,000 SKUs and a modular design that allowed for partner-specific customization, the site achieved the highest conversion rate among the top 20 e-commerce sites on the Internet (Goldman Sachs, January 2000), as well as an extremely low cart abandonment rate of 39% - compared with an industry average of 65% (Boston Consulting Group, February 2000)." Don Wrege

2001 - - Redesign / Re-architect
(Producer - Budget - $220,000)
Between and HealthCentralRX, asked us to redesign their site. It was a potentially daunting task--organize a website for the most fanatically organized people on the planet. Astonishingly, with over 700,000 registered users, FC had never done any user testing of their online presence. We did, and we vastly improved upon the usability and information architecture thanks largely to Sarah Gilbert's IA and Nancy Simeone's management of production. Unfortunately, I had to battle XOR's management to allow the Creative Department to even take the gig, since it didn't fit into their "grand plan" (which later cratered). They finally let us do it under protest and we made XOR two hundred grand plus--delivering on time and on budget. Suddenly the marketing department was touting the project as an exemplary case study.

2001 - - Redesign / Re-architect / Rebuild
(Producer - Budget - 23 million dollars)
Here we sat at the very apex of the dot-com madness, XOR Inc. and Sign One of the Industry's Largest Full-Service eBusiness Management Contracts. Billing $595,000 every single month for the HCRX project thanks in part to Bryan Lawrence's bookeeping acumen and Kurt Maleug's relentlessness. With a core team of 31 individuals, (an expanded team of 52) we pulled out all of the stops. That is, until HealthCentral bought and everything started get strange. As the project fell into litigation I was drafted into the Creative department to fill the void left by Hans Bjordahl, who left to pursue sanity at Microsoft. I was made Manager of Creative Services overseeing a staff of 13 designers, production specialists and one really angry art director.